/// FCC’s Pai Warns Agency Against Strong-Arming Broadcasters in Auction

January 30, 2014  |  Media Week

Did the Federal Communications Commission come close to changing its media ownership rules regarding joint sales agreements and shared service agreements? According to sources, as late as Tuesday, chairman Tom Wheeler was ready to circulate an order that would have eliminated JSAs and SSAs, which have become a target of cable and public interest groups who see SSAs as end-runs around the ownership rules , and as a way to drive up retransmission fees. While the order would have pleased those groups, it may have mortally wounded the FCC's chances of convincing TV broadcasters they should voluntarily give up some or all of their spectrum. The spectrum auction intended to get more spectrum in the hands of wireless companies, will either turn out to be Wheeler's signature accomplishment or an embarrassing dud. But so far, broadcasters aren't embracing it, and Wheeler knows it, publicly pitching to broadcasters that the auction is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

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